Tag Archives: baking

The Best Strawberry Cheesecake

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This is the cheesecake recipe I turn to when time is in short supply but I still want to make something delicious for the following day.  I started making this at 8 pm tonight,  less than an hour later,  it was ready to come out of the oven!

You can vary the recipe depending on what is in season (or which tinned fruit is languishing at the back of your cupboard).  I used rosewater as a flavouring but natural vanilla extract or lemon zest would be lovely too.

You will need :

8 digestive biscuits
50g melted butter
600g cream cheese (I use 300g full-fat and 300g light)
2tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp rosewater
2 eggs +1 yolk
142 ml sour cream
400g strawberries
1 tbsp icing sugar

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Butter a 20 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

In a food processor,  crush the biscuits into fine crumbs. Mix thoroughly with the melted butter and press into the base of the tin with your palm. Bake for 5 min.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese, flour, sugar, rosewater, eggs, egg yolk and sour cream until well mixed and fluffy.

Wash half the strawberries,  hull and cut into quarters.

Pour the mixture delicately over the biscuit base, then scatter the strawberries over the top and push them down slightly. 

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Bake for 40 min until set but still wobbly in the middle.

Cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar, then carefully ease out of the tin when cool and transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Keep 3 or 4 strawberries to one side, and wash, hull and quarter the rest. Put in a small pan with the icing sugar and cook on a low heat for a few min until soft. Blend to a smooth purée.

Before serving, thinly slice the remaining strawberries, and arrange on each plate with a slice of cheesecake and a drizzle of strawberry purée.

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Bring Some Excitement Into Your Life! Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Seed Bread

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If you are bored of your everyday bread, if the thought of yet another white sliced loaf makes you want to scream, if you are crying out for something to break the lunchtime sandwiches tedium… Then this is the bread for you.

Why should this be the answer to your problems, you may ask? Well, not only does it look lovely, with its rich golden colour dotted with tempting pumpkin seeds, but this bread also has the advantage of partnering equally well with sweet or savoury toppings. I am pointing this out because sadly it isn’t the case with a lot of other speciality breads (onion bread with jam, anyone? ) so it is perfect for busy households where the same loaf needs to be used for toast at breakfast and to make sandwiches to take to work.

Don’t like sweet potato? Or pumpkin seeds? No problem. This works equally well with the same amount of potato, pumpkin or squash, and you can use sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc.

You will also be pleased to know that this lovely bread is also rather good for you, with its vegetable goodness and healthy pumpkin seeds.

So, to sum up: this bread is good-looking, versatile, tasty, and healthy.

It will change your life.

Bake it.

You will need:

250 g sweet potato, cooked then mashed

1 x 7g sachet dried yeast

350 g strong white flour

110 g pumpkin seeds

10 g salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

250 ml warm water

Method:

In  a large bowl, mix the sweet potato, flour, yeast, salt, pumpkin seeds and olive oil. Gradually add the water to form a consistent dough (you may need a little bit more or less water), then knead for about 10 min until smooth and soft.wpid-20140209_140641.jpg

If using a mixer, knead with the dough hook for 5-10 min.

Shape the dough into a ball and leave to rest, covered, for 1 to 2 h or until well-risen.wpid-20140209_144329.jpg

Press down gently with your fingertips to deflate the dough, then either shape into a ball again on a floured baking sheet, or fill a lightly oiled 900 g loaf tin. Cover and leave to rise again for 30-45 min.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/ fan 200C/ gas 8. Bake the bread for 25-30 min until dark golden (the loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).

Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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Filed under Bakes, Bread, Breakfast, Vegetarian

Chocolate Orange Brownies

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These brownies are deliciously moist and bursting with flavour. The richness of the chocolate teamed up with the orange makes for a wonderful combination.

I came up with this recipe when I was preparing for a charity bake sale at work. A colleague asked for brownies to be included but he is allergic to nuts. I didn’t want to just make a plain chocolate brownie, because I like something to counteract the richness of the chocolate. I instantly thought of including orange but I didn’t think that just chucking orange zest into the mix would deliver enough flavour.

Then I remembered the celebrated clementine cake by Nigella The Great, and decided that a boiled orange would deliver a strong orange taste and help keep the brownies moist. I added the candied peel for texture, but you can do without if you prefer your brownies without “bits” in them.

The finished recipe received a very enthusiastic reception and I have had several requests for these brownies since!

You will need:

1 orange
250 g dark chocolate
150 g butter
3 medium eggs
100 g demerara sugar
150 g caster sugar
85 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
40 g chopped mixed candied peel (optional)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160C/ fan 140C/Gas 3.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Immerse the orange (whole and un-peeled) into the water, and boil for 30 min. Drain, then purée the orange (with a stick blender or in a food processor). Leave to cool.
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Melt the chocolate and butter together, either in the microwave or in a small pan set over a very gentle heat. Leave to cool.

With an electric whisk, or in a stand mixer beat the eggs until pale, then gradually add the sugars and whisk until pale and foamy.
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Add the melted chocolate, then the orange mixing gently in between. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold gently.

Pour delicately into a greased tray bake tin (mine is about 20×30 cm)and scatter the candied peel over the top.
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Bake for about 20 to 25 min. It is ready when a skewer comes out mostly clean but with a few crumbs attached; don’t over-bake your brownies or they will be dry!

Turn out onto a wire rack, and cut into rectangles when cool.

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Filed under Bakes, Buffet, Cakes, Desserts, Nut-free

Mince Pies: The Taste of Christmas

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Mince pies are among my favourite Christmas treats. When I first came across mince pies, shortly after moving here from France, I was intrigued by the name: did these crazy Brits really eat sweetened meat? A quick Google search reassured me that this wasn’t the case anymore, and only the suet remained from what was originally a meat-based dish. Vegetable suet can of course be substituted if you prefer.

Baking mince pies has to be the best way to spend a cold December afternoon; it is a real joy to bring the lovely, golden pies out of the oven and it makes the whole house smell of Christmas!
This recipe makes more mincemeat than you need. Store the remainder in sterilized jars and keep for another baking session; or decorate the jars with pretty labels to make a lovely home-made gift!

You will need (for 24 mince pies) :

For the mincemeat:

250g Bramley apples, peeled and grated
100g sultanas
60g currants
70g dried cranberries
180g raisins
110g chopped mixed peel
30g chopped almonds (optional)
4tbsp brandy
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
170g dark muscovado sugar
120g shredded vegetable suet

For the pastry:

450g plain flour
230g cold butter, diced
Juice and grated zest of 1 orange
1 beaten egg
Icing sugar

Method:

Make the mincemeat:

In a large saucepan, combine the apple, dried fruit, peel, almonds, alcohol, zest, juices, and spices. Cook over a low heat, stirring regularly, until the mix is fairly dry and the dried fruit has plumped up (this should take 45 min to 1h).

Leave to cool, then mix in the suet and muscovado sugar.

Make the pastry:

To make by hand, rub the flour into the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add the zest and juice and bring together into a ball ( add a bit of iced water if necessary).
Alternatively use a food processor: mix the flour and butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, then add the zest and juice and mix again until it comes together, adding a bit of iced water if necessary. Knead lightly a couple of times.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 to 20 min.

Assemble the mince pies:

PrehEeat the oven to 190*C/ fan 170*C/ Gas 5. Cut the pastry into 2 pieces, about one third to two thirds.
Roll out the larger piece (leave the other piece in the fridge) on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 3 mm. With an 8 cm round fluted cutter, stamp out 24 bases and use them to line 2 12-hole mince pie tins, or patty tins ( you will need to re-roll the trimmings).
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Fill each pastry case with about 1 tbsp mincemeat.
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Roll out the rest of the pastry as before, and cut out 24 lids with a 7 cm cutter.
Brush the edges of the pastry cases with water, then press a lid down on each base, sealing well.
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Make 3 slits in each pie top with a sharp knife, then brush with some beaten egg and bake for about 20 min or until nice and golden.
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Cool for 10 min in the tins, then remove to a wire rack and dredge with icing sugar.

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Filed under Bakes, Cakes, Christmas, Desserts, Pastry, Pies, Sweet Tarts

Lemon and Raspberries Layer Cake

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I made this for Mr Greedy Frog’s birthday. We gathered a few friends and relatives and had a lovely, relaxed barbecue in our garden. This cake was the perfect conclusion to the meal: it is special enough to be a Birthday cake, yet it isn’t too fussy. And it is also very easy to make, which is always a bonus when you are entertaining. I made the sponge the night before, then made the filling and assembled the cake on the day. Easy, peasy!

You will need:

For the sponge:

225 g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

200 g caster sugar

200 g butter

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp milk

Zest 1 lemon

For the filling and topping:

400 g medium-fat soft cheese

Zest and juice 1 lemon

100 g icing sugar + 1 tbsp for dusting

4 tbsp lemon curd

200 g raspberries

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas 4. Line a deep, well-greased 18cm round tin.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into a large bowl and whisk until well combined (or use a stand mixer). Add the milk and gently stir it through.

Pour the batter into the tin, and bake for 50 to 60 min or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for 10 min, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

When the cake has cooled down, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese, zest, juice and 100 g icing sugar until smooth. Reserve.

Cut the sponge into 3 layers of equal thickness. Spread the bottom layer with a third of the filling, top with the middle layer and more filling, then the top layer. Spread the remaining filling over the top of the cake, dollop the lemon curd all over, and finish with the raspberries. Dust with icing sugar.
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Raspberry and Rose Cheesecake Sandwich

raspberry and rose cheesecake sandwich

I created this cake for a competition I entered. I had in mind a cross between a cheesecake and a Victoria sandwich, and I must admit I am rather happy with the result!

It took a little bit of work to get the texture right for the filling, as it needs to be dense enough to support the sponge on top and keep its shape, while still being creamy and light.

I am no cake decorator, hence the simple topping of fresh fruit with a dusting of icing sugar (almost anything looks fancier with icing sugar!).

I didn’t win the competition, by the way, and I realised that I am actually quite a bad sport: never mind the taking part, I really wanted to win! 🙂

You will need:

 For decorating:

About 150 g mixed raspberries and strawberries
Icing sugar
1 pink rose
1 egg white
2 tbsp granulated sugar

 

For the sponge:

4 eggs
225 g caster sugar
225 self-raising flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
225 g butter, at room temperature, diced
50 g raspberries

 

For the raspberry coulis:

50 g raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp rose water

 

For the cheesecake filling:

150 g double cream
50 g crème fraîche
250 g cream cheese
200 g cottage cheese
100 g caster sugar
30 ml rose water
8 g gelatine (leaves)

 

Method:

 The day before:

Gently peel the petals off the rose, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Lightly wisk the egg white. Dip the petals in it one by one, shaking off any excess and arrange them on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar, and leave to dry for 24h.

 On the day; make the sponge.

Switch the oven on to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 20 cm Ø sandwich tins.

Whisk the eggs, butter and sugar together until just combined, then fold in the flour and baking powder, being careful not to over mix. Finally, add the raspberries.

Divide the batter between the two prepared tins and bake for about 25 min, or until golden and springy in the middle, and the edges are coming away from the tin. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

 Make the coulis:

In a small pan, put the raspberries, icing sugar and rose water and bring to the boil over a low heat, lightly crushing the raspberries with a spoon. Leave to simmer for about 5 mins or until slightly reduced and syrupy. Leave to cool.

 Make the filling:

Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water.

Mix the double cream and crème fraîche and whisk to stiff peaks.

In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, sugar and rose water.

Squeeze the softened gelatine to release excess water. In a small pan, boil 1 tbsp water, add the gelatine and stir to melt, then pour straight away into the cream cheese mix and stir through. Gently combine the cream cheese mix with the whipped cream.

Mix 1 tbsp of the filling into the raspberry coulis, then pour the coulis into the filling, stirring once or twice to get a marble effect.

 Assemble the cake:

Place one of the cakes on a serving plate, and top with big dollops of the filling; keep going until the filling is all used up. Use a palette knife to straighten the edges and flatten the top, but don’t worry about being too tidy at this stage. Refrigerate for about an hour, then top with the other sponge and use the palette knife to neaten the filling up a bit. Chill for another hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the raspberries and strawberries, dot with the candied rose petals, and sprinkle with icing sugar.

 

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Rhubarb and Orange Cake

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You will need:

500 g rhubarb
4 eggs
200 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest 1 orange (thinly sliced or grated)
160 g self-raising flour
30 g chopped almonds
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
30 g butter (for the tin)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220ºC /fan 200ºC /Gas 7.

Butter a 20 cm Ø  springform tin, then line the base with buttered greaseproof paper.

Trim and peel the rhubarb, then cut into 1 cm cubes.
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Find a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over one of your medium-sized saucepans.

Bring some water to simmering point in the pan. Break the eggs into the bowl and add the sugar and the vanilla. Place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water, and beat with an electric whisk for a few minutes until light and foamy.
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Take off the heat.

Sift the flour over the mix in batches, mixing gently in between. Whisk to a smooth consistency, then stir through the orange zest.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and tip the rhubarb over it. Press gently down on the rhubarb cubes to help them sink. Scatter the almonds over the top, then the golden caster sugar.

Bake for 30 to 35 min.

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